Two lots on West Waterloo Street in Canal Winchester soon could see new life as a commercial and residential development.

City Development Director Lucas Haire said a developer has expressed interest in building commercial space with residential units above.

Canal Winchester City Council approved an emergency ordinance March 4 authorizing Mayor Michael Ebert to enter into a demolition agreement with the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corp. to raze a vacant and blighted home at 26 W. Waterloo St.

The COCIC is a nonprofit public-private partnership created in 2005 to rehabilitate distressed properties in Franklin County.

“This would be at no cost to us,” Haire told council members. “They would remove the property and do any of the remediation that’s necessary.

“It’s more than likely there is asbestos in the home, based on its age,” he said. “We haven’t done any testing, but it can get very expensive to remove that.”

The house, which the city purchased in September 2017, sits adjacent to a lot where a Marathon gas station once stood. The gas station was demolished in 2008 under a similar agreement with Franklin County.

Canal Winchester’s Landmarks Commission is scheduled to review the agreement with the COCIC during its meeting on Monday, March 25, although Haire said this is just “a courtesy.”

“Since this is a city-owned property, we are exempted from applying for demolition permits,” he said. “We are going to do that as a courtesy to Landmarks, but we are not required to under our codes.”

Before voting, Councilman Pat Lynch questioned the need for emergency legislation. Ordinances typically receive three readings before a final vote; those designated as emergencies can be voted on and go into effect immediately.

“There have been people who have applied for demolitions in the downtown area,” Lynch said. “I’m wondering if we’re not setting ourselves up for a little bit of backlash from the community as far as trying to push through the removal of a building.

“I’m not saying it merits it or not, but should we not follow the process – the typical protocol of having this go through three readings – so we don’t run into any future problems?” he asked.

Haire said the potential for imminent redevelopment created the need for the emergency legislation. He said the timeline for demolition would be about three months from the time the agreement goes into effect with the COCIC.

In the case of the Marathon station, the COCIC spent more than $283,000 for environmental cleanup and testing at the site. A U.S. EPA grant reimbursed nearly half of the costs.

Franklin County assumed ownership of the Marathon property following a sheriff’s sale held because its former owner owed more than $63,000 in back taxes.